Month: June 2012

Mirza Waheed

From “Where 5000 Graves Don’t Speak

Recently, I came across the work of Slovenian poet Tomaz Salamun and found myself unexpectedly distressed, even outraged, after reading his short poem Not the War. In the words “Not the murder, silence brings one back to the scene of the crime”, Salamun is perhaps talking of love. But I am thinking war, and am transported back home, to Kashmir, to scenes of nameless burials and sites of extra-judicial killings.

I was angry at the silence of the Indian State, and more crucially perhaps, the hushedness of the country’s vibrant civil society, at the discovery of thousands of unmarked graves in troubled Jammu & Kashmir. It has been nearly a year since the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), a human rights body appointed by the state government, released an extensive report on the presence of 2,156 bullet-ridden bodies in unmarked graves in the border districts. It confirmed what a local rights group, the International People’s Tribunal of Kashmir, had revealed in a landmark investigation in 2008. Hundreds of the bodies were of men described as “unidentified militants”, killed in fighting with the armed forces during the armed insurrection of the 1990s. But, according to the report, at least 574 of them were of those “identified as local Kashmiri residents”. (more…)

Anuradha Bhasin

From Kindle Magazine: Examining Essays Written in Bubbles

In the summer of 2010, the response to Kashmir’s anger erupting onto the streets was not just brutality but also an Indian nationalistic narrative claiming that the stone pelting mobs were sponsored by militants. In 2012, as Kashmir braces for another summer, in the intervening period marked by the invisibility of anger, a fresh narrative has taken over – that Kashmir is moving on or must move on. The source of the 2010 narrative was official circles; the 2012 narrative emanates from Indian intelligentsia who are busy manufacturing consent about ‘anger transforming into optimism’.  The arguments may sound new but are a morphed version of the traditional paradigms of ‘normalcy’ and ‘peace’ used in the past. Even during the peak militancy years, when local Doordarshan channels would broadcast news, the scorecard of daily violence and casualties always ended with the one-liner: ‘However, there was complete normalcy across the rest of Jammu & Kashmir.’

Now, as the government decides to maintain a cryptic silence, after vain attempts by parliamentarian groups and Kashmir interlocutors to feel the pulse of the youth, it is the jargon of intellectuals that has taken over. Everybody is keen to reinforce two points – that Kashmiris must move on and that they are happy – trying to drive home a theory of ‘the existence of peace’. The official exercises after the 2010 agitation, it is now clear, were not meant to address Kashmiris, but were for the purpose of creating camouflage and constructing an image of Kashmir that may not be agreeable to its people. Among the supporters of such theories are former RAW chief A.S. Dulat and former chief information commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah, both drawing their conclusions from the prevailing calm and flourishing tourism, inferring that people of Kashmir have a stake in this ‘existing peace’ and thus that ‘they must move on’.  Dulat even claimed that Kashmir in this backdrop of ‘normalcy’ can be solved ‘overnight.’ (more…)